Thursday, 25 June 2015

Blog Tour: If You Don't Know Me By Now - Author Q&A with A.L. Michael


Blurb:
"What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.
Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London’s rudest customers goes viral – and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself…"


I'm delighted to be kicking off the 'If You Don't Know Me By Now" blog tour with a Q&A post with the wonderful A.L. Michael. She stopped by Little Northern Soul to chat about her latest novel, writing inspiration and plans for the future. Hope you enjoy!

1) Hello and welcome to Little Northern Soul! Could you start by telling us a little more about 'If You Don't Know Me By Now?' 

It's about a girl called Imogen who moves to London from Doncaster to work for a magazine. That falls through and she ends up working as a barista in a posh coffee shop, and is shocked by how awful and stuck up people can be. She ends up creating a blog about the horrible customers to blow off steam, and it becomes really popular. She's got to make sure she stays anonymous though, which becomes harder as people start looking for 'the west london coffee bitch'!

2) Who was your favourite character to write and why? 

loved writing her cousin Demi, she was such a firecracker! As I'm nearing 30 I'm starting to realise the gap between early and late 20s, and Demi really summarises that difference in attitude and energy. Imogen tries to keep up, but also she's there as a source of comfort for her younger cousin, to let her know it will get better!

3) Where do you get ideas and inspiration for your stories? 

Well usually I think the ideas erupt after taking in things around me- watching tv shows, reading, but also listening on the tube, noting down funny things I hear, listening to people's stories. However, in this case, I was a barista in a coffee shop, and I did end up writing a blog to blow off steam, so the excerpts from Imogen's blog are actually mine! I wanted to tell the story of working in that industry, but also wanted to give it some romantic sparkle!

4) If You Don't Know Me By Now isn't a sequel to your previous novel The Last Word, but it does contains some of the same characters. What made you decide to bring back some familiar faces? 

I missed them! I'd originally hoped to write a sequel, but I also love when characters from different books cross over- Tabby was in the background of My So Called (Love) Life too! I like sneaking them in, because that's often how London is; it seems massive and full of strangers, and yet you bump into people all the time!

5) Are there plans for a sequel to The Last Word? 

The story is ready in my head for when anyone wants to read it, but I've got a series coming out next year, so it wouldn't be for a while. But if you want a sequel, tell my publisher and maybe they'll let me write one!

6) Your writing style is really funny and enjoyable. Do you plan out the humorous parts of the story or do they just come naturally as you write? 

Thank you! No, I don't plan it at all, I often worry that my books aren't funny enough. Occasionally I'll read back through and  giggle a little, then I'm relieved, because I'd forgotten about jokes I'd put in, so it must just be natural.

7) Where do you write your stories - do you have a special writing place? 

It depends on the time of day- if I'm trying to write during the day, I do best in a coffee shop. Luckily my boyfriend runs one, so I can sit there and get some great work done- but obviously the amount of delectable treats are not good for keeping away Writer's Bum! Otherwise I'll write in the evening in my trusty armchair, with the tv on in the background.

8) How was your journey to publication? Can you tell us what it was like when you found out you had a publication deal? 

I'd always been aiming for publication, and had my first book published by an indie publisher in York. I'd already written The Last Word, but had never intended to publish it- it was just for me and I didn't think it was any good. Thank goodness I saw Carina on twitter and I just thought 'well, it's sitting in a drawer, why not submit it?' I remember getting the email saying they loved it and wanted to offer me a two book deal, standing in my mum's kitchen reading the email on my phone. I didn't think it was real! 

9) Do you have plans in place for your  next book -  anything you can share with us? 

It's a three book series about three old friends running an arts centre in Camden. Very London, full of memories and arty fun! They're out next year and I'm really excited about them!

10) Finally, it'd be great to find out a bit more about you. How do you like to relax and unwind when you're not busy writing? 

I'm a bit of a fitness freak- I love going to the gym and lifting weights, and I'm trying to train myself to like running! I also love yoga and dancing. I really like cooking, and trying to find ways to substitute in baking, so I can make delicious things healthy. That said, some days the only way to unwind is with a glass of wine and too many hours of netflix!



About the author:

A.L. Michael is a twenty something writer from London. She works as a creative facilitator, running workshops in creative writing, writing for wellbeing, and children's lessons. She has a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is working towards an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all reliant on her student discount card.

When she's not writing or talking about writing, she bakes, runs, plays with her puppy, and gets continually distracted by shiny things on Pinterest. 



Giveaway! 

Your chance to win  an If You Don’t Know Me By Now coffee themed goodie bag!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Blog Tour: Return to Bluebell Hill - Author Q&A with Rebecca Pugh


Today I'm absolutely delighted to welcome Rebecca Pugh to Little Northern Soul. Her debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill, was released last week and is an absolutely wonderful read - you can read my review here . As part of the blog tour, Becca answered my questions about the book and writing process, so grab a cuppa, get comfy and enjoy finding out more about this fantastic debut author, who is truly one to watch! 




1) Hi Becca! Thanks for stopping by Little Northern Soul. First of all can you tell us a bit more about your debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill

Of course! Return to Bluebell Hill is all about Jessica McAdams returning to her childhood village after being away for almost a decade. Why? Well, readers find out as the story progresses, and the secrets of Jessica’s past begin to unravel. It’s a novel about taking chances, facing your fears and grabbing the future with both hands! There’s also a lovely splash of romance in there, too! ;) 

2) I absolutely love the book - it's a real page turner and has a whole host of brilliant characters. Who was your favourite to write? 

Wow, I’m SO chuffed that you love it! Thank you for your gorgeous comments. Oh, I’ve been asked this a few times now, and even though Jessica was my main focus, I found Esme rather fun to create. She’s a lovely old woman with apple-round cheeks and wispy hair that she wears in a bun. Her cottage is definitely a plus, too! 

3) Where did the idea for the story come from and how do you find inspiration for writing generally? 

The idea came completely from my imagination, although I suppose my family is such a huge deal to me, I definitely had to include some aspect of that in there. I’ve always been charmed by bluebells, not only because of their gorgeous colour but because of the myths that are behind them, mostly to do with fairies. You know how much I’m a sucker for anything remotely fairy-tale like! 

4) I always thinks it's great to find out more about the person behind the book, so can you tell us a little about you? 

Sure, although I may bore you to sleep! ;) I really am just your average twenty-something from Shropshire. Big family girl at heart! I’m the eldest of seven children and call my siblings my squiggles, haha. I’ve always been a passionate reader, I love old 80’s music and films. As everyone can see from my tweets etc. I’m very excitable! I don’t know why that is, maybe because I’m surrounded by my younger siblings and they’re still so young. They don’t yet know about worries or stress or anything like that, and maybe that rubs off on me? I don’t know. I have a partner who I’ve been with since secondary school, and a Jack Russell called Bonnie. I love takeaway food, I love surprises and I LOVE that I’m on your blog right now, answering your questions for my blog tour. Life is crazy!

5) Have you always wanted to be an author? 

It’s definitely always been a dream, but seemed so impossible and out of reach that I very rarely entertained the idea of it actually ever happening! Now that it is happening, I’m finding it hard to realise that it’s real and not still in my mind! It really is a dream come true. Sounds so clichéd but… it is what it is! 

6) How was your journey to publication? 

INCREDIBLY EXCITED! Every day was another step closer to my debut novel being published. Every milestone (title reveal, cover reveal) just heightened my excitement and it really has been the most incredible journey of my LIFE. I’ve tried to keep my emotions in check, but it’s so difficult because the support from yourself and the other bloggers, even authors, has just been so overwhelming. I’ll always remember this experience, always. 

7) Is it possible to describe the feeling when you got the call to say your book was going to be published? 

Hahah, oh man, I don’t think I can. I remember holding the phone to my ear and feeling as if the earth had suddenly just shifted. It’s taken a long time for me to truly comprehend what it all means and that it’s really happening. Even now, there are days when I stop and stare as it all comes to the surface again. It’s just surreal. Completely and utterly surreal! 

8) Becca's Books is a really successful blog - I love reading it. Now you're a successful author (because we all know Return to Bluebell Hill is going to soar!) are you still going to spend as much time on the blog? 

Aurwh, thanks so much, Laura. I’m so proud of Becca’s Books. She’s definitely not the most amazing book blog out there, but she’s very special to me! (No idea why I’m referring to my blog as a ‘she’) Hahaha! The truth is, I probably will slow down just a little bit with the blog, only because I really want to give my chance with Carina my absolute ALL. I don’t want to mess up such an amazing opportunity. I think I’ll always have time for my blog, for reading and reviewing, but the writing will have to come first, especially when there are deadlines to meet! 

9) When you're not busy writing or blogging how do you like to spend your free time? 

Days out, trips to the cinema with my partner, visiting the family, watching the old films that I love so much, friends, going out for scrummy food. Down the pub for a drink every now and again. Just your everyday, average things! I wish I could say that I split my time between here and Paris, but sadly that’s not the case, haha! ;)

10) I have to ask... is there plans for book 2?! 

There are plans for book 2, although none are set in concrete just yet… Once I’m set on Book 2, you’ll definitely be hearing about it, because you know how I just love to scream and shout about all of the bookish things, including my own!

Thanks so much for coming on the blog Becca! 


Laura, thank YOU for having me, and for your fabulous questions! It has been an absolute pleasure, and I cannot thank you enough for the never-ending support that you’ve been throwing my way by the bucket-load. You’re fantastic, and it means the world to me. Becca xxx

LINKS: 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Four things tag


I saw the 'Four Things Tag' over at Jenny in Neverland's blog yesterday and thought it looked like a really fun post to do so I decided to have a go - I hope you enjoy my answers! If you want to give it a try, post a link in the comment section below to your post - I'd love to read your answers too :) 



Four jobs I’ve had:
Waitress and bartender at the hotel in my home village - it gave an insight into how stressful planning weddings can be! 
Customer Services Advisor at the local council, which was a real eye-opener. 
Administrator for the Big Lottery Fund
Media & Communications Officer for a charity in Leeds - my current role, only a month in! 

Four movies I've watched more than once:
Mean Girls - One of the most quotable films ever
Sleeping Beauty - My fave disney film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 & 2) - we used to watch this most weekends at uni. 
Airplane! - the other most quotable film ever












Four places I’ve lived:
A small village in Yorkshire, between York and Leeds 
Nottingham (during uni)
Leeds City Centre
And as of next week I'll live in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds 

Four places I've visited:
Chicago 
Paris
Rome
France




















Four things I don’t eat:
Mushrooms 
Peppers
Cherries 
Marzipan

Four of my favourite foods:
Pizza 
Chicken 
Cookies (preferably Tesco finest triple chocolate cookies) 
Chocolate. Anything chocolate.

Four TV shows I watch:
The Good Wife
House
Gogglebox
Any form of middle aged woman murder mystery programme (Midsomer Murders, Lewis, DCI Banks etc)
















Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
Moving into my first house
Going to Belgium to watch the F1
Celebrating my sister's 21st with a big family party
Spending time in my new home (I don't think I've mentioned my house...)


Four things that were worth their money:
-My house (sorry - there I go again!)
-My MacBook Air - couldn't be without it 
-The rent I spent on our old flat - despite the excitement of moving to our first home, I was sad to leave our cute little flat. It was the host of many wonderful memories. 
-Holidays - always seem so expensive but always SO worth it.

Four pet peeves:
-People who drive unnecessarily slow. Sure, you need to be safe & obey speed limits, but do you need to be going 40mph in a 60 zone? Get.a.move.on
-Rude people - there's just no need
-Bailers - those people who always commit to doing something/going somewhere with you when you first mention it, then when the time comes to do it they make a phoney excuse and don't. 
-People who moan and moan and moan about things, but don't DO anything to change the situation they're unhappy with. 

Four things I can’t live without:
My other half, family and friends 
Tea
Sleep (I need my sleep or I become a crazy lady!) 
Laughter/fun

Four things near me right now: 
Phone
Mug of tea 
Laptop
A bar of chocolate I'm trying to avoid... 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Friday Faves



Happy Friday everyone! 


I haven't posted a video in a while so have just done a new one for you guys, but be warned... this video doesn't contain books! 

I know, I know... terrible really! But I think it's nice to do things differently from time to time, so I've made a video of my Friday favourites, featuring clothing, products, food and stationary. 

Hope you enjoy! 


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Book review: Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

"Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…
Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?
Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…
Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?



 The wonderful Rebecca Pugh has been talking about her debut novel for the past few months now and I've been thrilled for her - what an achievement! Although I couldn't wait to get involved and get my mitts on a copy, there was that underlying worry.  I feel like Becca is a friend - although we haven't met in person, she welcomed me into the blogging community with open arms, is always there to chat to on twitter and is just a genuinely lovely person. Which created an underlying fear - although really I knew the book would be fab, there was a tiny part of me that worried - what if I didn't like it? What would I say to her? Once Return to Bluebell Hill was on my kindle I was so excited but also slightly nervous -I had a feeling I've never had with a book before - it felt really personal. 

However, from the very first sentence any nerves swiftly disappeared and were replaced with joy as Becca is BRILLIANT. Absolutely Brilliant. She's created a romantic, mysterious story that I loved and I'm so pleased to share my review with you all! 

I knew from the first few pages I was going to enjoy the story. Rebecca has a great writing style - engaging, easy-going and descriptive. Straight away I loved the main character, Jessica, wanting to find out more about her mysterious past and what happened with her parents.  The story follows her on her journey back to her childhood home, to clear out her parents house after their death. From the very start we learn that they didn't have a good relationship with them and she isn't mourning the way most people would be if both their parents passed away - she is reserved and almost cold about the situation. 

As she returns to Bluebell Hill, she leaves behind her best friend and crutch of support, Sarah. I thought she was a brilliant character - funny, caring and just a really good friend. There are some other great characters too. There's Esme, who looked after Jessica as she was growing up and is a motherly figure to her - more so than her own mother was. Esme was possibly my favourite character in the story as she is so kind and genuine. She is actually harbouring the big secret that surrounds Jessica and her parents relationship, but she's not malicious - she always has Jessica's feelings at the forefront of her mind which is why she's kept it to herself for so long. 

Of course, any great romantic fiction story needs a swooning romance, and that's when I'll mention Rueben, the veryyyy attractive gardener who works in her parents house. From the offset there's a connection there between him and Jessica, a tension that has you screaming for them to just get on with it and kiss already! I loved seeing their relationship develop and unfold, especially as it brings Jessica's guard down and reveals a softer side to her. 

The story has a host of wonderful locations. There's Bluebell Hill, of course, which sounds beautiful and quaint. Although Jessica doesn't see the charm of the place as she only associates it with bad memories, as a reader I wanted to jump on a train and head there - it sounded lovely. Then later in the story Jessica heads to Paris (I won't say why as it would really ruin things!) but the description there is brilliant yet again - I felt like I was walking down the Champs-Élysées, eating fresh bread and cheese and drinking wine with them it was so immersive. 

So, there you have it - Return to Bluebell Hill is brilliant, and I'm not just saying that! If you haven't bought it already then what are you waiting for?! The link is below!  Rebecca is one to watch  - I think this is the beginning of a very successful writing journey for her. I see 'bestseller' being on the horizon with this absolute treat of a story. Congratulations again Becca!  

LINKS: 

Keep an eye out for a Q&A with Becca on Little Northern Soul next week as part of the Return to Bluebell Hill blog tour! 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Sizzling Summer reads


So, despite the fact that as I'm typing this I'm looking out onto a grey and rainy Leeds, it's now June and therefore summer! I thought it would be fun to share some of my top summer picks, so that even if English weather doesn't live up to expectation, we can escape to somewhere else hot & sunny.



Minus a few, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed all these books and so will post the links to my reviews below. I chose these books as they are either set in exotic, sunny locations (such as Game of Scones), or they are gripping, thrilling novels that are the prefect pool-side read, and a great excuse not to move for a whole afternoon! (such as The Day We Disappeared!) 

So grab a cool drink, one of the books above and enjoy a summery afternoon lost amongst great locations and characters - even if it is raining and cold! 

Reviews: 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Book review: Summer at Shell Cottage

Blurb: 

"A seaside holiday at Shell Cottage in Devon has always been the perfect escape for the Tarrant family. Beach fun, barbecues and warm summer evenings with a cocktail or two - who could ask for more?
But this year, everything has changed. Following her husband's recent death, Olivia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Then she makes a shocking discovery that turns her world upside down.
As a busy mum and GP, Freya's used to having her hands full, but a bad day at work has put her career in jeopardy and now she's really feeling the pressure.
Harriet's looking forward to a break with her lovely husband Robert and teenage daughter Molly. But unknown to Harriet, Robert is hiding a secret - and so, for that matter, is Molly . . ."

My Review: 

I am a HUGE fan of Lucy Diamond and have been eagerly awaiting this new release so I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint at all and is another brilliant story from one of my favourite writers.

The story follows the Tarrant family during their annual family holiday to Shell Cottage in Devon.  As usual, Lucy manages to create intriguing separate story lines for all the different characters, but also link them all seamlessly together. 

Olivia is dreading returning to Shell Cottage for the first time since her husbands death. Usually the summer trips are full of laughter and fun, but this time there will be a big empty gap where Alec used to be. However, she soon discovers a big secret her husband had kept from her for years, which adds a whole new dimension to her grief and how she spends her holiday.  Then there's her daughter Freya, who has turned to alcohol as she struggles to deal with her fathers death, a huge mistake at work and an ever-distant husband. In complete contrast, everything in Heather's world is, apparently, running smoothly (minus a flakey ex who barely sees their teenage daughter, Molly) her husband Robert has  just signed a massive book deal, following in his famous late-fathers writing footsteps. However, her perfect world starts to unravel and she realises all is not as it seems... 

The large Tarrant family mean that this book is crammed with loads of characters but each one brings something extra to the table. One of my favourites was Olivia, who goes on a really emotional journey and I found it so interesting to see how she coped. Sadness, anger, happiness, loss - all these emotions play a huge part of her story and really reflect the different stages of grief. I absolutely loved it when she befriended her new cleaner Gloria, as she is absolutely hilarious! Somewhat more wild than prim and proper Olivia, Gloria really brings out the reckless side of Olivia - soon she's skinny dipping, smoking and even contemplating a tattoo. 

One of the story lines I also really enjoyed was Molly's, Heather's daughter. I don't want to spoil anything, but there is a huge twist of events with that story that had me gasping in shock as I really hadn't guessed it. Lucy accurately portrays a mother and teenage daughter relationship with Molly and Heather - you can tell Molly is trying to be cool and is quite embarrassed by her mum sometimes but, really, nothing beats the safety of a cuddle with your mum. 

What I loved about this story is there's a lot going on, but it's not hard to keep up at all and isn't overly complicated. I was worried that as there are so many characters the story could have been in danger of going too far and resembling your favourite soap. However Lucy (as usual) finds the perfect balance between dramatic story lines and a leisurely read, meaning that even when all the events combine they don't seem too far fetched and are actually pivotal parts of the story. 

Lucy's books are always so absorbing and transport you to another world. The location in this story is wonderful, set at the sunny Devon seaside, I could practically feel the sea breeze tickling my shoulders and the sun bouncing down on my skin and eating wonderful food to accompany the good weather. 

Full of sunshine, secrets and splendid characters,  Summer at Shell Cottage is a fantastic read that I really, really enjoyed. If you love Lucy Diamond already, this lives up to expectation and if, for some reason you haven't read anything by her before, go buy this now! go! (and then stock up with her back catalogue while you're at it!) 




I've decided to start a rating system for my reviews, as it makes it easier to distinguish my feelings of a book. I'm delighted that the first review I'm doing scores top points - 5 Yorkshire roses go to this wonderful story. 






Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Cover reveal: Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh


Well today my wonderful readers, I have a huge treat in store for you. Rebecca Pugh's debut novel 'Return to Bluebell Hill' will be published by Carina on June 18th. Becca has become a firm blogger friend of mine since I began Little Northern Soul, so I'm so excited to get to join in the celebrations with her in the form of cover reveals and blog tours! 

Later this month I'll be posting an author Q&A with Becca as part of the blog tour, so keep an eye out for that, but in the meantime, it's time to reveal the cover for her book! 

So ta-daaaa! here it is in all it's glory: 



Isn't it beautiful? I love the colour scheme and it makes me even more eager to read it! 

Blurb:

As sweet and satisfying as strawberries and cream! This British summertime, get out in the garden with Rebecca Pugh’s sparkling debut novel.


Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…

Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

An emotional tale of self-discovery, taking chances and romance! Rebecca’s unique British voice feels like coming home again and again.



Author Biography

Rebecca Pugh grew up in the green county of Shropshire, with a mind full of fairy-tales and happy endings. Enchanted by true love and Disney Princesses, she decided that no matter what life threw her way, she’d continue to see the world through a child’s eyes. Through the pages of countless books, her adoration of reading blossomed, and it didn’t take long for her to fall under the spell of hundreds of authors’ words. 
Now, Rebecca’s own story has taken a fairy-tale like turn, and at 22, her dream has come true. With her faithful companions: Bonnie the dog, her partner, and her gigantic family by her side, Rebecca is ready to share her stories with readers who enjoy falling in love and losing themselves within beautiful, fictional worlds.

Rebecca Pugh is the author of women’s fiction and romance, her all-time favourite genres. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good swoon?
Her debut novel, Return to Bluebell Hill, is due to be published June 18th 2015 by Carina UK. 

Links





Monday, 8 June 2015

Book review: The Dish




"Love is on the menu. With a side order of lies.
When Laura Parker first crosses forks with Adam Bayley, she's only after one thing: his custard doughnut. But when she takes a closer look she sees a talented, handsome man who outshines the string of jokers she's been dating.
There's just one problem. Adam's job means Laura has to keep her job as restaurant critic for The Dish, a secret. Tricky for someone who prides herself on honesty.
Can the truth be put on ice long enough for love to flourish?
And how can you expect your boyfriend to be honest if you're not quite telling the truth yourself?"

My review: 
This book is any foodies dream. Whether you love cooking, eating out or eating in, this book covers it all. My stomach was growling from page one at the thought of custard doughnuts, fried prawns and spicy, smoky beans. 
Don't get me wrong, it's not a recipe book. It is romantic fiction at it's finest - fun, flirty and full of fantastic food. The story follows Laura, who is a brilliant main character (and not just because of her name!). Working as a PA in a publishing company, she also is the secret mastermind behind 'The Dish' food column. When she meets Adam one hungover morning, she decides not to tell him that she has just written a seething review about the snobbish, disappointing restaurant he works for. I completely get why she did this - it's not exactly a great pick-up line, and it's clear from the off-set that Adam is one of the good guys. 
Which leads me nicely on to Adam. Oh Adam. Although he can be slightly grumpy at times and has a mysterious air about him, I fell for him immediately. He's charming, kind a and a bloody good cook - what more could you want? Any man that can turn baked beans on toast into one of the nicest meals a restaurant critic has ever had is one for me. I loved watching their relationship grow and following them on their journey. 
There's a whole host of wonderful characters in The Dish. I loved Roger, Laura's boss and also pretty much a second father to her. Her friend Sophie is also brilliant, a keen baker and eager to help Laura and Adams relationship along when issues come between them. Sandra, her colleague at work is so infuriating - a kiss arse busy-body who clearly has it out for her. However, I always think a character that provokes reaction, good or bad, is a good one as it shows the author has made them real. 
The format of the story is fast-paced and sucks you into Laura's world. I particularly liked the regular sections of email exchange within the story- they added a nice break from the first person writing and were a great way to quickly explain what was happening.  The exchanges with Laura and her work colleagues Kiki and Azeem were a particular highlight for me as they were hilarious
I really enjoyed The Dish, it is a fun story filled with wonderful food. It remained fast-paced throughout and Laura is a great main character who I rooted for from the very start. Anyone looking for a light-hearted, entertaining read this is the one for you. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Monthly round-up: May



Hello there!

At the moment everything's a bit manic and rushed, so I haven't had the time to film and edit a monthly round-up vlog this month (boo!) but hopefully a good old written post will do the trick this time. Do keep an eye out for a few more vlogs on the site soon though :) 

So, May was a jam-packed month filled with great reads. I took part in the brilliant Harper Impulse Fortnight as well as quite a few blog tours and was lucky to get stuck into some new releases. 

Books I read during May: 

Just The Way You Are, Lynsey James
The Life You Left, Carmel Harrington
The Broken, Tamar Cohen
Truly Madly Greekly, Mandy Baggot
Always the Bridesmaid, Lindsey KelkCastaway in the Caribbean, Janice Horton
 
Evil Games, Angela Marsons
The Lost Child,Ann Troup 
A Way From Heart to Heart, Helena Fairfax
Coming up Roses, Rachael Lucas
Life's a Beach and Then... Julia Roberts

I've reviewed most of these books during may- just click on the titles above to see the reviews. 

As always, I found picking a 'book of the month' really difficult. Special shout-outs needs to go to Ann Troup as The Lost Child was intriguing and unusual, Lindsey Kelk as she lived up to her usual brilliance with Always the Bridesmaid and Mandy Baggot for making me crave the sunshine and a holiday! 

But, my book of the month just had to be Evil Games by Angela Marsons.



 This book surpassed all expectations and is just as brilliant as the first in the DCI Kim Stone series, Silent Scream. I was hooked from the very first page and still find myself thinking about it now. Thank you Angie for yet another fantastic, creepy and gripping novel. I cannot WAIT for book 3!

Now I'm getting stuck into my June reads, kicking off with 'The Dish' which I am really enjoying. It's also the start of paperback summer so I will be reading as many paperbacks as I can for the next few months. 

What are you guys reading? 



Thursday, 4 June 2015

Blog tour: Life's a beach and then.... by Julia Roberts



 Blurb: 

"Holly Wilson has landed a dream job but there is one proviso… she must keep it secret, and that means telling lies. Holly hates telling lies.

Her latest assignment has brought her to the paradise island of Mauritius where she meets a British couple, Robert and Rosemary, who share a tragic secret of their own.

The moment they introduce Holly to handsome writer, Philippe, she begins to fall in love, something she hasn’t allowed herself to do for twenty years.

But Philippe has not been completely honest either and when Holly stumbles across the truth, she feels totally betrayed."




My review: 

The story begins in Maritiaus, following the main character Holly as she reviews the hotel for her blog. The description of the location is brilliant - there is great attention to detail and you can tell Julia has personal experience of being there, you really do feel immersed into that environment. During Holly's trip we also meet Rosemary and Robert, a lovely couple who are enjoying one of the last holidays they can have because of Rose's illness. They are a really sweet couple, particularly the way Robert cares so dearly for his wife, and I loved following them on their journey.  My favourite character was Holly's son, Harry. He is a student and is wonderful - very level-headed and easy-going, I loved finding out more about him during the second part of the story, and hope the second book of this series will follow him more. 
I want to be as completely honest as possible when it comes to reviews and so I will say that if I'm honest, the storyline didn't grip me or pull me in as much as I thought it would. The pace of the story is hindered by a lot of description which is sometimes too much. Instead of getting to know a characters thoughts and emotions, you instead get a lot of detailed description about other things that aren't always needed. For me, the storyline was fairly predictable with no twist or turns and I didn't get to relate to the characters as much as I'd have liked to. 
However, don't let that put you off as there are some really great aspects to the book and it is definitely worth a read. I particularly enjoyed the latter half of the story as it is quicker-paced and more entertaining, but I also enjoyed the Mauritius location - it made me crave a luxurious holiday in a 5* resort! 
It will be interesting to see how this works as a series and how the story will develop with book 2. 



Links: 



Following the launch of her first book, Julia needed a well-deserved break and booked a holiday to Mauritius. Her children, now adults, had bought her a notebook with words on the cover that read 'Hold on people…  I’m having an Idea'. On the first morning of her holiday, Julia had just that – the idea for her first novel. 

Over the course of the ten days she was in Mauritius, she scribbled copious notes, thoughts and ideas. When she arrived home, she started writing.

Life’s a Beach is part one of the Liberty Sands trilogy.  Julia has already started writing book two, If He Really Loved Me… , which she hopes to finish in the Autumn.


Blog Tour organised by Jenny in Neverland: